Today the House of Representatives passed HR 720, the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007, which authorizes $14 billion over four years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF provides low-interest loans to construct wastewater treatment facilities and other pollution-abatement projects. The vote count was 303 to 108.
Fully funding the CSWRF is considered a critical part of the 2005 Great Lakes Regional Collaboration agreement designed to end the flow of wastewater from flowing into the lakes by 2020.
Another water-sources bill (HR 700), which passed, 368-59, on Thursday, authorizes $125 million for local governments, water agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The Senate is expected to take up HR 720 later this year.
The Great Lakes watershed is one of the world's most significant ecological systems, on which the region's fisheries, birds, other wildlife, and people depend. Close to 95 percent of America's fresh surface water is contained in the Great Lakes, providing drinking water for 40 million people. Additionally, the Great Lakes provide habitat and migration routes for 400 bird species, including the Great Blue Heron. Audubon is focusing on bird and wildlife habitat restoration and protection of open spaces adjacent to Great Lakes wetlands, particularly in Important Bird Area watersheds.